Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Home for Christmas--if only in my (our) dreams"

Hello, everyone,

This may be a depressing post--not the most appropriate one for the weekend before Christmas, when the magic of the Season should be wrapping up everything with joy, faith, love, and that return to childhood that can only happen at Christmas time. Instead, my eyes are filled with tears, and need to move back from the computer so as not to get the keyboard wet. No matter how very hard we try to get into the Christmas spirit, neither my mother nor Catherine, Gerard, Warren, or I can stop thinking about a little town. I'm not talking about the "little town of Bethlehem" at this moment, but about a cute and picturesque little town in Bulgaria called Lukovit. We feel that Baby Jesus, His Blessed Mother, and all the saints are with us as we worry sick about those two small boys who will be spending Christmas so very far away and yet "will be home for Christmas--if only in our dreams."

Anything that happens in everyday life lends itself as a good reason to express the anxiety, anguish, and pain over how long the process is taking. I will clarify that nobody is to be blamed for that---except, of course, the agency in San Diego that refused to update our homestudy for two more adoptions until after six months from the day Stephen came home. On one hand, I'm happy because thanks to that, and per our unanimous decision, we took that huge leap of faith and moved to RI. even without having applied for admission to the RI Bar, without having found a house to rent, and without having even assessed the possibilities for employment. Actually God helped at every stage, and we ended up renting the only house for which we had called from California. Well, I had made two more calls also, but one house was not wheelchair accessible, and for another one nobody had ever contacted me back. So, I can say that God helped every step of the way. Moreover, had we not moved in a rush when we did, the right moment might have never arrived, and, once again, I'm really happy that we did move. I do apologize to anyone who is from or lives in California, and many people considers it nicer than Rhode Island, but personally I like RI much better. It's a much more European lifestyle, much more similar to the environment in which I grew up.
When it comes to the adoption process, though, it was not foreseeable how very long everything would take, from getting medical insurance, processing local live scans, and, most of all, dealing with financial struggles I had not anticipated. I feel badly to admit that we all have warm winter clothes (which we didn't need in CA) thanks to Catherine, that Gerard and Warren had something for their 15th birthday thanks to Catherine, that Santa will come on Christmas Eve thanks to the most selfless Mrs. Klaus named Catherine, and that Stephen will have presents to open on his birthday thanks to his older sister as well.

We're expecting the arrival of a sizable amount of money that will provide for the remaining adoption expenses and will msolve some other problems, but, once again, things take much longer than they should. I will admit that I needed to wait for help in order to file for I-800A approval--and as a result of the waiting time, now we'll spend Christmas torn by the unbearable anxiety of waiting for that precious, seemingly unattainable "golden ticket." It may give some comfort to think that it did happen in the past and will happen again--but we're emotionally drained by the anguish of the waiting time.

Why did USCIS have to centralize the processing? For Thomas and Nicholas' adoptions, it was a matter of going in person to the local Adoption Office at the Federal Building downtown San Diego. We could walk in there any Tuesday morning, and walk out with the reassurance that everything was in order and that you'd get that invaluable piece of paper as soon as your biometrics cleared. It was so simple as that. Instead, it's torture now. My Mom cannot climb into the family van any more. I will not repeat that she voluntarily sacrificed the use of her legs and her eyesight to the adoption costs by preferring her monies to go towards adoption expenses from Haiti and Bulgaria rather than using those monies to cover knee replacement and cataracts surgeries for herself. I've said that many times already. Assisted by two of us, last Friday she made the huge effort to make it inside the van, and out of it at the local CIS Support Center for her biometrics. When trying to climb back into the van, she was almost falling down. In a second, Warren told me to move away, and with a strength that only God could have given him, he picked up my Mom in the air and placed her on the passenger seat. After that, Warren needed to keep on reassuring his Grandma that his back was all right and had suffered no damage from the effort. Although extremely tall, the twins are as thin as sticks, and for many days my Mom continued worrying about Warren's back. Gerard was at home, waiting for the school buses to honk the horn. What if my Mom's live scan needs to be redone? What if we get a new notice at a time of heavy snow? While they were fingerprinting her, I was carefully watching the machine, and it did not show too many extended areas in red--which seems to indicate that probably her prints will be able to get processed.We're praying.

Even small things are blown out of proportion because we cannot wait any longer. We always use artificial Christmas trees. We find it much less painful to put away the tree every year knowing that it'll be up again the following Advent than having to take it out for disposal by the City. For the larger tree, which is 7-foot tall, we couldn't find the stand. I bought one at Benny's, but it had to be returned because its diameter was too small. The twins had looked online, and also Home Depot seemed to have stands for artificial trees. We went there, and the only stands they had were for natural trees. The other ones were only available online, and were out of stock already. The Home Depot employee suggested that we should try The Christmas Tree Store or Wal Mart. I called the Christmas Tree Store, and they did not carry artificial tree stands. I was trying to hold my tears. Was I crying for the tree stand? No, that was a pretext, an excuse, a way of lying to myself. We're all doing the same. Everyday occurrances offer good avenues to scapegoat the main, overwhelming, omnipresent, oppressing concern. The little Christmas tree stand problem had a happy resolution as we went in person to WalMart and got one of the last three artificial tree stands still remaining, and it would fit perfectly. But--what about the main issue? What if something happens along the process? What if Maximilian and Philip never get to go to Mass with us on Christmas Eve and open presents on Christmas Day at our house? I'm crying again. Yes, for sure they'll be home with us this Christmas--but, as the world-famous Christmas carol says, it'll be "only in our dreams."

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